Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrating the end of Birthday season

I'm dragging myself over the finish line y'all.  As many of you long-time readers know, March-April is usually wild with five family birthdays- three of which are under my own roof, plus Easter and spring break!  It's so fun, but oh my... is it nap time yet? 

I didn't want another week to go by without checking in here... but I also feel like I'm a bit scattered, so like always, this will be good and random.  (Hmmm. I think I've heard myself say that before.  Uh... in every post lately?) Also, I've got a ton of pretty photos from all the party prepping and such that I have been wanting to share.  I'll only share a few of them or else we'd be here all day. 

I do have to share one kid story and I hope I won't get into trouble for it. (By the way, it's so hard when your kids get old enough to tell you they don't want you to blog about them or take photos etc.  It limits me since they are kind of my world... but if you have been wondering why they show up less and less, that's why.  Little stinkers... growing up and having opinions. Ha!) Anyway, Ava, my little introvert, told me that she didn't want to have anyone but Adrain, Joe and I and one friend on her actual birthday.  She wanted Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon for dinner and an ice cream cake for dessert and one friend for only a few hours.  I laughed and laughed but that's what she is getting tomorrow. A day with few people for limited time and special foods was her heart's request... I couldn't possibly say no.  Sweet little thing. I am learning so much about what introverts need. 

 First things first.  This is a photo from my 365 project.  My son's 15th birthday cake.  Always carrot. He specially requested the frosting carrots on top.  I tell you.  These kids have me wrapped around their fingers when it comes to birthday wishes!! (Clearly I delight in this.)
 Spring has sprung here in the PNW but something is eating my clematis.  I am thinking earwigs?  I must find out what to do about that.  (Otherwise it's very pretty and expect a yard and garden post at some point!)

 I wanted to make a centerpiece for Ava that she would enjoy... then it hit me- kick it old school with roses which she loves, in a shallow bowl and floating candles.  Then 1994 called and it wanted it's wedding centerpiece back. Bwahahaahaha!
    Joann's, bless you for your cute party ware.
 Making this ice cream cake for Ava. 
 Adrain got spoiled too.  We made mojito pitchers all last weekend for the lovely family that were in and out to celebrate his 40th.  He got sliders and Alaska king crab legs (thanks to his sister) on two back to back nights too.  All this pretty in the kitchen forced me to change out two cupboards and the items on the counter tops.  Because.  I love when I get that bug to change things. 

 I was thrilled to find these little sandwich picks at a local shop.  They were perfect for the sliders I made him.  I had no idea you could find slider buns at the grocery store.  That was a happy find! 
 This sign is my heartbeat right now so I keep it ever present.  I did want to mention as well, how thankful I am that you're a community that let's me be vulnerable and share my life with you.  I always do so with my husband's sweet blessing and I'm amazed time and time again, how God uses you to encourage me, and how often I hear that someone was touched because they felt like maybe they were all alone in a particular struggle and when I share mine in a real and vulnerable way, they realize they were not!  We were meant to encourage each other in this journey and my heart soars when that all comes together and we do.  I certainly don't always get it right, but fears have been my shadow lately and I've been daily encouraged to have faith and share that real struggle with you because it's not always easy.  I am so thankful for this community. 

I also wanted to share this farmhouse pillow that I received recently from Ever Thine Home.  Isn't it the CUTEST???  I love having this little reminder in my bedroom nook.

Here's some honesty. As Adrain and I have been journeying together with his new job and such, it's been months of juggling our relationship while he put in crazy hours studying and working, and we regularly talk about the state of things which I think is important for all marriages by the way, not just during those trying times.  Sometimes I'm demanding and selfish and wish for more of his attention (that was yucky to type out but sadly true) and I'm constantly blown away by his patient love for me in spite of ME!  He always stops to talk it out and reminds me how much he loves me and shows me kindness when I'm having a wife tantrum.  Bless his heart. I'm going to be grateful for his love all my life. He shows me constantly, what unconditional actually means.
Lastly, after many months of agonizing over it and praying and yapping about the pros and cons, I did reopen my etsy shop.  Just a quick mention here, and don't worry, I won't bombard you with it.  (grin) I added this sweet macaron photo print as well, but that's all I'll say on the subject.  

I'm off to finish sweet Ava's birthday cake.  I hope she loves it as we ring in 13.  I'm celebrating these new beginnings with Adrain's job, and having two teenagers, and one about to get a driver's permit.  Yes, I am even celebrating that!  It's going to be quite a year! I love the people my children are becoming and I had no idea teenagers would be this much fun.  They keep me laughing more and more and I am delighting in their company in ways I never imagined. 

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Random thoughts & house pretties

Today felt like a good day for random chat time.  We haven't had one of those in ages so grab your coffee and let's gab about life. 

We wrapped up spring break and my family didn't go anywhere other than Seattle for a weekend but we had glorious (rare) April sunshine, so I wore shorts (my new ones for my capsule wardrobe which I actually really loved and were short without being SHORT- these ones in navy) and spent as much time outside, in my garden and hammock as possible. It's amazing the difference that sunshine makes in life. Most of you don't even KNOW what I'm talking about... you probably get entire seasons with it~ We get it so rarely, gray skies being more our norm, here in the Pacific NW, that it's a total treat.

Not that you care but I just started a 30 day squat challenge.  I may not  be able to move by the end of this week.  Who knew squats could be so intense?  I am not taking a before/after of my booty to share here...  Just so you know.   (You're as relieved as I am about that fact.)

 My garden is getting reworked this year.  I tend to push veggies out more and more each year in favor of flowers.  This year has been the same. I'm basically planting tomatoes, radishes, and pickling cucumbers.  Oh and lettuces and such.  My lilac has tons of little buds on it, but no opening blooms this season, and my 12 year old wisteria is also still bloomless.  I don't have something they need in my soil and I've also distressed my wisteria like they say but alas, it's not worked. Help? So, I'll have to try and figure those things out.  That said, Adrain's grandma (family friend actually) told me last year that I could have as many lilacs from her bushes as I wanted.  Which in reality would strip her bushes bare so I did restrain myself quite a bit.  I ended up with a full galvanized bucket on my kitchen table which I'd been dreaming about for an entire year so I was thrilled. 

I just read a book on boundaries- called Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend. It had been recommended to me by maybe a dozen friends/mentors over the years.  (Apparently I have an issue in this area?)  I think it (will be) life changing for me.  I am a classic people pleaser and avoid all conflicts at all costs.  Which means I seldom say no, and when I do, I give a million excuses for it and then I feel bad and guilty for a week, fretting and chasing the person with my apologies.  Uh.  That sounded just as lame as it is.  It took truth from a wise counselor/friend in my life who looked at me and told me that I was enabling people to walk on me emotionally with my insecure behavior, and that chasing people with my explanations and apologies wasn't making it better, rather it was making it worse!  (How did I not see this destructive pattern before?) Then I read the book and realized I have got to learn to stand firmly on my No.  I think my goal for this next year will be to not explain myself when I must say no, which the book said, opens us up for being argued with or talked out of our No, or worse yet gives the other person power over us to not "forgive my no" though we generally only say no after looking at the situation from all sides and realizing it's not right for us, our my family or situations, etc.  I had about twenty major take-aways from this book and that's only ONE of them.  I think my biggest fears with setting boundaries for myself come from anticipating the negative reaction I am sure to get from the other party and then the conflicts that arise after.  I am such a work in progress.  And life is filled with conflicts that are unavoidable.  I don't much like that but I felt like the bottom line of this book was that in the end, you can only control YOU.  And that's where you can work really hard to do it well.  Have you read it?  Do you handle your boundary setting well?

I hung two platters on the wall in the dining area.  It just came to me one day that they needed to be hung.  Creamy, neutral goodness and I hardly ever used that huge one from Target anyway.  Far better to "use" it daily on the wall than seldom, in my platter cupboard. 

While on spring break, Adrain took Ava out on a daddy daughter date and gave her a promise ring.  We did the Passport to Purity with our son but we went a different route with Ava and she kind of knew that it was coming after our previous dates and talks but she was so excited.  The next day she was just sitting looking at her hand and said, "Mom, how long does it take to get used to a pretty ring like this?"  I laughed... so sweet.  (I also told her about how I almost crashed my car while driving after getting engaged because I could see the reflection of my hand and ring on the windshield.)

Next week Adrain turns 40 and Ava turns 13. (I think my brain keeps thinking she is way older because she acts older and looks older.  I'll be in celebration mode- aka need a nap mode. Ha!)

We got a new rug for the living room. I could write an entire post on this you guys.  The furry rug was for ME, so it got moved into the master bedroom where I delight in it daily.  The reason... it wasn't a hill I was willing to die on.  As a mother of teens, I'm realizing that my sanity has a price tag. (Somehow this fact escaped me previously) I have told my kids a million times how awful it is to eat in front of a TV.  I truly have!  I have outlawed it for most of their life but as they get older, I'm way more relaxed about things like that.  It just sort of happened.  I used to run a tight ship and one day I realized that 1) I didn't need to 2) they mostly know by now what's okay and what's not 3) I care a little less about the what and more about the who- they matter more to me than what they do or don't do 4) at some point they have to make their own choices.  If they spilled the cough syrup all over the floor last night, they are big enough to recognize that it didn't get cleaned properly and is still sticky the today and know they have to be the one to do something about it.  Sometimes they have to go back over it five more times to get it all. Allegedly. (ha!)

But now, they aren't toddlers and they love eating a snack in there no matter what I think or don't think.  It drives me crazy but I'm much happier if I just let them, as I'm fairly certain that they do it when I'm not around to frown at it anyway.  I decided not to die on that hill as it felt like it was a losing UPHILL battle.  However, the beautiful furry rug was getting spilled on sometimes and that was getting under my skin even if it got cleaned up.  It was also getting tracked over (and even that one visitor who wiped muddy feet on it) (I know.) so I decided that for everyone's sake and my own precious sanity and energy, (and personal boundaries) to move the dang rug in favor of a darker, low-pile, comfortable to lounge on, easily vacuumable inexpensive replacement.  I found this beauty on Wayfair for under $50 and free shipping so Adrain gave me the go-ahead.  It was worth every penny! 

 We have a new to us coffee table as well.  This lovely mid-century table came from my boss's house and I sanded down the top and the wood lip around it that must have housed a glass top at one point.  I made it flush and smooth and painted it... white. Ta-Da! (I know you're shocked by that color choice.)

 I am in need of a good book recommendation if anyone has one?  I just finished all of Jennifer L Scott's Madame Chic books and now I'm loaning them out to everyone I know.  That good!

Well, thanks for the Tuesday morning chat.  Y'all are so sweet.  Chat back in comments if you can jump through all the hoops to leave me one. (SO sorry... the spammers are back at it.)

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Monday, April 4, 2016

You might feel like you're just one wad of gum on the wall...

I'm not in charge. 

I've probably recited those words to myself about a million times over the last year.  I've blogged dozens of times, talking in circles because I couldn't share details, but all the while, trying my hardest to wrap my brain around our circumstances, my lack of faith, and the way I wanted to come out the other side.  And now, the details are out and we can just talk plainly, which is far more my style anyway.  I've always  been a rather straight shooter... when asked how I am, I'm far more likely to actually tell you in detail, (making you wish you hadn't asked?) than say that I'm "fine" or "good" or "not great."  If I'm good, you'll know- exactly why... and the same goes for those days I'm not good.  So this open blogging suits me far better than cryptic messages about having faith in the hard times or the unknowns.



 We spent the past weekend in Seattle, celebrating my husband's passing of his final exam for his new career with Thrivent Financial.  He is so excited to be on this journey and I wish I had been his biggest cheerleader all along the way but that's not what happened.  I dragged my feet.  I threw a lot of fits over the idea that we were willingly exchanging a steady paycheck that often didn't make the ends meet, for a 100% commission, faith based career.  I got mad a lot.  I cried. I feared. I fought with Adrain and then with God and when neither of them budged, I struggled.  I didn't want to have to have big faith.  I didn't want to be stretched.  I did want my sweet man to be happy and so I struggled with my selfishness and beat myself up nearly constantly over my failure to do this well. We all know that big things don't come from comfort zones... well I like comfort zones! Adrain steadily ignored my whining and poured himself into his studies day and night, while juggling a full time management job. I began to see once again, the beautiful character of this man I married. He gives of himself constantly, and has always been the biggest example of Christ's unconditional love for me, besides the love I was raised with from my own parents. (Someday I want to write a book about my childhood for y'all.)  Adrain was doing what he felt best for this entire family in the long term, though he was aware the adjustment would be challenging.  And he worked sacrificially for us through the entire journey, wearing himself thin with it.  He was daily up, before 4 am to study for a couple of hours, before heading off to work 50+ hours, then home to study again until bedtime and all weekend long.  For months.  He pushed himself nonstop.  Then the day before he was going to give his 2 weeks notice, his assistant manager was killed on his way home from work, in a car crash.  Adrain swallowed his own agenda (no surprise, once again) and didn't give his notice or breathe a word of his plans to leave... he stayed on another couple of weeks to help get things at work settled and to be there for his crew and customers, before giving his 2 weeks notice. 

We went out of town with Adrain for his final test, with plans to celebrate, as we have missed his face! We had a lovely time in nearby downtown Seattle, staying at an artsy hotel that was just my type (Hotel Monaco).  We did all the touristy things like riding the monorail and sipping Starbucks, museum hopping, and watching all the street artists.  And Pike Place. Of course.  I love Pike Place.  I love the weirdness and all the flowers.  And I love the moments of clarity that come from being around all the artistic inspiration.  I felt the tingle of a blog post forming in my heart over the gum wall of all things.  It's incredibly gross.  An alley area under the market, where the walls are literally dripping with people's chewed gum. (My son almost couldn't bring himself to finish his lunch when I brought it up so if you've got a queasy stomach, try not to over think the whole gum part  of it and look at the artistic side with me.) It's colorful and unique.  Each piece of gum working in the whole scheme to make something grand.  And it got me thinking... as we do our journey in this life, God is using the ways we fit into the stories around us for His good.  That includes our failures and our victories! All of them make the big picture of our life and you know something... it's beautiful.

I shared this on Instagram last night, in reflection, "I sit here tonight, after a fun and short trip out of town to celebrate my sweet man's accomplishments, so thankful.  As I look backward over the past six months journey, I am slightly ashamed at the way fears drove me down the wrong path continually.  I regrouped regularly, but my own instincts for self, comfort, control and preservation always steered me back off course & you can't even know the strife I caused myself (& even the rest of this tribe that I love) because of it.  The thing I come back to again & again, is that God's faithfulness never has and never will depend on mine.  He does good in spite of me!!  He plans for my future even when I wreck every moment along the way with bad attitudes, questions & faithlessness.  When we get to the finish line some day I may be crawling on hands and knees, covered in scars of my own making, but I will be the most grateful of them all, because I will be so aware of what God continued to rescue me from-MY OWN SELF. (Not sure if you are facing an unknown and failing miserably at doing it well, but know this... God is greater than all our good... and far greater than all our fails.  His plans for you, they are GOOD.  Believe it.)"

What I love most about this life, is that it doesn't matter so much how we did yesterday, if we regroup and get it together for today.  It's not how you start, it's how you end.  There's always a chance for a comeback. I don't know your details. Maybe for you it's relationships that continue to derail around you.  Or addictions in shopping, substances or thought patterns.  Maybe your details involve fear, comparisons, control or all of the above on any given day. I don't know... what I do know, is that God is greater than our details and failures.  We're in this together, making something pretty great.  You might feel like an insignificant part of the big picture and you may not know how you're making a difference, even if you fail as often as I do.  And honestly, you might feel like you're just one wad of gum on the wall, but without you there, forging ahead and doing your best to be a part of this, you'd leave a hole. So be encouraged to keep trying and do today.  Just today.  Make it better than yesterday and let God use your story as part of His plan.  It's a good one.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

P.S. I have loved all your thoughts on my previous post- the capsule wardrobe.  It's been such a game changer for me personally, and going away with this new mindset made packing crazy easy. I've had a bunch of emails asking for photos of me wearing the actual capsule outfits so you can see my combinations... I'll try and work on that, but here was my outfit on day two for sight seeing & walking lots.  (Sperry top siders, dark skinnies, black stripe tee, straw fedora and leather bag.)

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